Signs of Alcohol Poisoning


Around 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported each year in the United States.

Knowing what the typical signs of alcohol poisoning are and calling 911 for immediate medical assistance can help avoid a fatal alcohol overdose.

Alcohol Poisoning and Blood Alcohol Level

Alcohol poisoning is a hazardous and potentially fatal consequence of drinking significantly more ethanol alcohol than the body can process.

Many people think that the key factor regarding alcohol poisoning is simply the amount of alcohol than an individual drinks.

One of the main issues concerning alcohol poisoning, however, is not necessarily the amount of alcohol a person has ingested but more importantly, the amount of alcohol that an individual can metabolize.

For instance, an underweight person who does not usually drink alcohol and who hasn't eaten in many hours may be at risk of developing alcohol poisoning after quickly ingesting just two or three drinks.

How alcohol consumption affects an individual's body depends on the amount of alcohol in his or her blood.

This 'level of alcohol" is known as blood alcohol concentration, or BAC.


An individual's blood alcohol concentration is directly related to the following factors:

  • How quickly the person consumes the alcoholic drink

  • How much food is in the individual's stomach at the time he or she drinks

  • How fast the person's body metabolizes the alcohol

  • How strong the alcoholic drink is

  • The person's body weight

  • The amount of alcohol that has been consumed

Common Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

One of the frequent first signs of alcohol poisoning is nausea followed by vomiting.

Essentially, these signs are warning signals from the body informing the individual that he or she has ingested more alcohol than his or her body can metabolize.

The following list exemplifies some of the common signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Difficulty awakening the person

  • Inability to make eye contact or sustain a conversation

  • Confusion

  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin

  • No withdrawal from painful stimuli (for instance from pinching)

  • Feeling very ill, including protracted vomiting

  • Slurred speech

  • Erratic behavior

  • Unconsciousness (passing out)

  • Absent reflexes

  • Seizures

  • Slow, shallow, or irregular breathing

Conclusion: Alcohol Poisoning Signs

Since almost 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported each year in the United States and due to the fact that alcohol poisoning can be fatal, it is important to be able to identify the common signs of alcohol poisoning.

Knowledge of these "alcohol signs" related to alcohol poisoning and knowing how to quickly and properly react to such signs (for instance by immediately calling 911 and asking for urgent medical assistance) can help avoid a fatal alcohol overdose.

The Bottom Line

If a person experiences an alcohol overdose, by definition he or she is an alcohol abuser.

As a result, this person needs to keep the following in mind: the more that alcohol is consumed in an abusive manner, the more likely it is that the drinker will become an alcoholic.


If this describes you, then you need to be honest with yourself and admit that you have a drinking problem.

Once you have taken this step, consider making it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment as soon as possible.